Synthetic Benchmarks

Various synthetic benchmarks are available to quickly evaluate the performance of direct-attached storage devices. Real-world performance testing often has to be a customized test. We present both varieties in this review, starting with the synthetic benchmarks in this section. All benchmarks were processed with the drive formatted in NTFS, even though the Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB comes pre-formatted in exFAT. Prior to covering the performance benchmarks, a quick note on our testbed - The Thunderbolt 3 host used for performance measurement across all considered devices today is enabled by the Alpine Ridge controller in the Hades Canyon NUC. The list of DAS units used for comparison purposes is provided below:

  • Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB 2TB
  • OWC Envoy Pro EX Thunderbolt 3 2TB
  • DIY TEKQ Rapide - WD Black SN750 TB3 SSD 1TB (Win 10 1809)

ATTO and Crystal DiskMark

OWC claims reads of up to 2500 MBps, while Plugable claims read and write speeds of 2400 MBps+ and 1800 MBps+. The write speed is with write caching enabled in Windows, which we did not opt to test with. The read speed claims are backed up by the ATTO benchmarks provided below. Unfortunately, these access traces are not very common in real-life scenarios. That said, it is interesting to see that the WD Black in the TEKQ Rapide is able to sustain 2000 MBps+ on the writes despite the default disabling of write caching in the OS.

Drive Performance Benchmarks - ATTO

CrystalDiskMark, despite being a canned benchmark, provides a better estimate of the performance range with a selected set of numbers. As evident from the screenshot below, the performance can dip to as low as 6 - 10 MBps for high queue-depth 4K writes. Thankfully, those are not typical use-cases for external SSDs.

Drive Performance Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark

For relatively small writes and reads (within the SLC cache size, such as the 8GB access span for the CrystalDiskMark workloads above), the DIY SSD with the WD Black SN750 easily emerges as the top performer. Between the Plugable and the OWC drives, we see reads performing very similarly. The writes show a slight edge for the Plugable drive, probably due to the additional firmware tuning.

Introduction and Product Impressions Real-World Benchmarks and Performance Consistency
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  • patel21 - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    Does anyone know of a good m.2 ssd enclosure to make a usb A / usb C portable Drive.

    I have a 240GB SATA SSD, which I want to make into a portable drive.
  • OctaneZ - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    Yes, another pluggable product:
    Plugable USB C to M.2 NVMe Tool-free Enclosure USB C and Thunderbolt 3 Compatible up to USB 3.1 Gen 2 Speeds (10Gbps). Adapter Includes USB-C and USB 3.0 Cables (Supports M.2 NVMe SSDs 2280 2260 2242)
    ~$50 I ordered this in June of 2019 and through an Inland (Microcenter) 1TB Phison 12 (~$100)

    I get 550MB/s on it!
  • notashill - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    Be careful, it's not compatible with M.2 SATA drives which is what this person was asking about.

    But those microcenter NVMe drives really are a great bargain. $37/60/100 for 256/512/1TB. Though confusingly they have 2 1TB drives that are basically the same price and one is way faster (x2 vs x4).
  • patel21 - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    You are right, this is for nvme m.2 drives only. Thanks for pointing it out.
  • regsEx - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    tones of them on ali

    Ugreen of high quality, for example. There are both SATA and NVMe on the page.

    Rest of them. Just make sure you are getting SATA one. NVMe has different M.2 keys.
  • vailr - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    I'd recommend purchase of this type of item from Amazon instead of AliExpress, due to warranty support issues. A "Jeyi" brand unit was purchased from AliExpress & shipped direct from China, & there was no English language support available after it quit working. Amazon offers these (and other) brands of NVMe enclosures: TDBT, Ineo, Inateck. All in the $30 to $38 price range.
  • h4xolotl - Friday, November 29, 2019 - link

    The ones on ali you linked are all USB-C (not thunderbolt 3) drive enclosures.

    They're much slower
  • Valantar - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    I haven't used this specific drive, but my experiences with previous Orico enclosures have been excellent. Note that there's versions for SATA and NVMe, make sure to pick the right one.
  • dqniel - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    The Plugable drive is "only" $400 right now, which gives a pretty good price per GB.
  • Valantar - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    Looks like some good DIY TB3 cases are finally showing up. Not cheap, but decent at least:

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